1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 136

Hold Your Colour, by Pendulum
Suggested by Jamie Walsh

Drum and Bass records are like busses. You wait hours for one, and then three arrive at once.

This is my second Drum and Bass album in a single week. No matter, it’s all good. I like a bit of D&B. Therein may lie the problem… I like a bit of D&B. I’m not a gnashing D&B cultist of the WUBCLUB. Will this be one step too far?

Pendulum are an Australian Drum and Bass outfit, with what feels to be a concentration on the Drums part of that equation. Hold Your Colour, their debut album, is laced with the speedy percussion that’s stock in the genre, the high-click mantis trills that are an aural representation of a caffeine-induced heart palpitation. Oddly, the Bass remainder feels a little anaemic in comparison to other acts I’ve enjoyed; there’s little of the trademark heel-strike to the solar plexus that drives the air from your chest with a pleasing wheeze.

There’s a feeling of neon about these tracks, of a lightness you’d not generally expect from such a filthy sound. It’s pleasing, this pure electronica. It has an Eighties Videogame sound, with tones and effects that conjure up childhood bedrooms. The second track, Slam, brings a sense of a spy film car chase, with a galloping synth line that conjures Aston Martins screaming through the streets of Berlin.

Slam is a standout, but there are others. The Terminal is solid, as is Fasten Your Seatbelt, but my choice for Top Song has to be Tarantula, the reggae-fused accordion tune with vocals from Tenor Fly and $pyda (whom Alexa calls “Dollar-pyda” when giving her shoutout). Tellingly, this track is one of the few that has a strident vocal component, and as such it’s the strongest on the album.

I think the main reason I didn’t jigsaw-gel with Hold Your Colour immediately is the lack of a dedicated vocalist on a host of the tracks. As I’ve said beofre, I’m not a fan of the Instrumental Overload on any given album, and I think this is a lost opportunity on some level. My previous Drum and Bass album, Chase and Status’s No More Idols, threw vocalists at us like dollar bills at a stripper. Pendulum make no such rain.

Additionally, Drum and Bass should make your skeleton vibrate, and this album feels more quizzical than bludgeoning. It’s more fizzy that forceful, more frothy head than campachoochoo, and as such it feels like Drum and Bass Lite, a primer CD that explains the genre to the uninitiated rather than dry slaps the adoring converted.

I liked this. I did. It just didn’t rock-and-sock me like I’d hoped. There was something jazz-hands comic-book about it, almost oom-pah-pah March of the Smurfs. I can’t quite put a pin in what’s off track, but there’s definitely something. Pendulum get 6/10 for Hold Your Colour. Its whites are tainted by a rogue red sock, and over time the colours do fade.

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